March 28th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Gingrich fears 'atheist country ... dominated by radical Islamists'

Newt Gingrich at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Hours after declaring Sunday that he expects to be running for president within a month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” in the foreseeable future, according to Politico.

Gingrich was addressing Cornerstone Church, a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, led by the Rev. John Hagee, an influential leader among American evangelicals. Hagee's endorsement of then-presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 was plagued by controversy.

McCain ultimately rejected the endorsement over remarks Hagee had made about the Holocaust, in which he appeared to say that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel, in accordance with biblical prophecy.

"God says in Jeremiah 16: 'Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. ... Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters. And they the hunters shall hunt them.' That would be the Jews,” Hagee had said in an earlier sermon.

“Then God sent a hunter,” his sermon continued. “A hunter is someone who comes with a gun, and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter."

McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement of his campaign after learning about the comments in May 2008. "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them,” McCain said at the time.

Hagee then withdrew his endorsement of the Arizona senator, which he had offered three months earlier.

One irony of McCain rejecting Hagee’s endorsement over his Holocaust remarks is that the Texas evangelist leads the Christian Zionist movement. Hagee is founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, which features Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors at its events.

Here’s what Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church on Sunday evening, according to Politico:

"I have two grandchildren: Maggie is 11; Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

The former House Speaker held up his own faith (he converted to Catholicism two years ago) as proof of his undying patriotism. He lashed out at the college professors and mainstream media he says are seeking to wipe out the Founding Fathers' Christian values. And he targeted the judges who he charges are effectively re-writing the Constitution.

But Gingrich was mum on his own controversial past, one of martial indiscretions and divorces that have made courting religious conservatives a tall task as he nears a likely presidential run.

Gingrich’s church appearance comes amid a broader campaign to court religious conservatives.

On Monday, Hagee released a statement praising Gingrich's appearance at Cornerstone. “It was such a great honor to welcome Mr. Gingrich to our church, and hear him describe the centrality of faith in our nation,” he said.

The statement also included praise for Hagee and his wife, Diana, from Gingrich.

“It was truly an honor to be with John and Diana at Cornerstone," Gingrich said. "Their dedication to serve is inspirational.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Texas

soundoff (2,228 Responses)
  1. Eddie B.

    This guy is the worse example of a human being who would do anything for power. His overt exclamations are racists and full of ethnocentrism with the intention of inciting hate. He is capable of anything and is the same man who left both of his sick wives for mistresses while leading a witch hunt against Clinton for his Monica Lewinsky incident... He then had the nerve to say he cheated because of his love for this country. This sickens me.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  2. Carmen

    Soo we are going to be an secular atheist country ruled by radical religious people? How does that work exactly? Also, what is the difference between radical GOP/Teabagger Christians and radical Muslims?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  3. 2tired2care

    I refuse to buy anything about Christianity coming from a guy who's been married 3 times and cheated on his first two wives.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Godless

      How do you think that conversation went with his latest wife?

      "Honey, I know I cheated on my first two wives, but THIS time, it's gonna be different...."

      March 29, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  4. RE McKay

    He has officially lost it. He is a nutty as the rest of the Republicans and Tea Baggers.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  5. Jake

    Any English speaking human who comes up with the phrase "secular atheist country dominated by radical Islam" is too stupid to be of worth to society. Is that why he is a politician?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  6. TTH

    I fear the religious right because they have destroyed this great country. We need a country that can move forward on sounded judgments and not religion texts.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  7. tim

    Of course he fears an atheist country. Because atheists those who are skeptical and know how to think freely, unlike Christians who believe based on "faith" and "feelings" rather than paying attention to the evidence and facts. With out those people, the GOP would not have a voter base.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  8. Zach

    Let me count the ways in which this guy has proven himself to be a moron...

    March 29, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  9. When Worlds Collide

    "For many will come, claiming my name and many will be mislead by them."

    March 29, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  10. Dave in Seattle

    ROTFLMAO: “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,”

    Radical Islamists is the OPPOSITE of secular atheists. Atheists don't believe in Islam anymore than the Christian, anceitn Egyptian, Norse, or Greek religions. The "radical Islamists" don't want a secular atheist government anymore than Newt does. Both of these crazies want a religious theocracy to run our country, just different religions. Both wanna kill the gays and aren't thrilled with the Jews, but they have different diets, so that's nice.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Erky

      But isn't Obama both a communist (godless) and a Muslim? 🙂

      March 29, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  11. Adam

    How can the country be secular and atheist if it's dominated by radical muslims???

    March 29, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  12. John Sharp

    Wow, So our country would be better off with a hypocritical Christian that cheats on not one but two of his ex-wifes. Jeez, I will choose a secular atheist any day of the week over a Christian. At least you know the Atheist will have morals and actually practice them.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  13. Nutes

    Do a little research on our boy Newt, he's changed his name, his religion and his wife three times. Additionally he writes historical fiction, he may be starting to believe his own BS. This guy believes in one thing, himself and how best to line his own pockets. If America is dumb enough to vote for this azz we deserve what we get.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  14. logikflux

    He is concerned with neither Atheism or radical Islamists. He is concerned with what is going to garner support for the next election, and this is a good way to get support from a large group of people who fear radical Islamist, and despise Atheists. Everyone knows this country already dominated by big business, and the military industrial complex. We are owned and governed long term by unelected civilians in large corporations, and unelected civilians in government positions. Elected officials come and go... Newt, stop stirring the pot with such shallow subjects, you are transparent and hypocritical

    March 29, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  15. Scott

    I don't believe in athiests therefore, they do not exist.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Carmen

      hmm. I don't believe in the teabag party . . . . how long till this works?

      March 29, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  16. Mike

    First it was Gays that were going to overtake our nation now its Islam, come one CNN why do you continue to give FREAKS like him any airtime at all?

    The republicans are hate mongers and will use any scare tactics to get elected, I guess the Gay issue is not so devisive anymore so now the republics are using Islam. Come on america we are smarter than this crap.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  17. iNdependent

    Newt Gengrich is a fool. What we DO have to fear is a country that is actually inspired by this yutz. Also, did he really say "a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists"? How could we be atheist and islamist at the same time? I think the only group that this pathetic scare tactic will work on is the 10% of Fox News viewers that aren't just tuned in to see if Glenn Beck will start crying (btw, great for drinking games). Everyone knows Fox gets there high viewership because people use there show content for drinking games. -e.g.... http://www.mademan.com/mm/5-tv-show-drinking-games.html

    March 29, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Jordin

      You nailed it right on the head. Couldn't have said it better.

      March 29, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  18. John

    The sooner we bury religion the better. Nearly every war has the stench of religious incest between the Jews, Muslims, and Christians. If there is a God, God would likely squash the faithful souls out of existence. As it should.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Mike


      March 29, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  19. CptKendrick

    Gingrich is so full of it.

    Everybody knows that all glory belongs to The Hypnotoad.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  20. SeaTurt1e

    People like to say it's okay to believe as long as you don't abuse others who believe differently from you. But Gingrich's statements demonstrate that belief is not okay, even if you don't bother others. Gingrich could conceivably be in the highest office in this land, and his illogical and ignorant "beliefs" would put more people at risk than any fundamentalist Muslim would. This quote just amazes me:

    "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

    He equates atheism and radical Islam? And supposedly what it once meant to be an American is that everybody gets to believe what they want... including, supposedly, atheists and radical Islamists.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:42 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.